Grants in News

Starr Hill Pathways scholars listen to University professors and students. Photo: Erin Edgerton

Many grant projects have been busy over the summer! From conducting field tests to hosting seminars, to preparing for future events, check out some incredible Jefferson Trust projects highlighted in the news:

An initiative from the UVA Equity Center and a 2022 annual grant recipient, Starr Hill Pathways brought middle-school students to Grounds for a three-week program to learn about the college experience and engage with a university. Check out their experiences in this UVA Today article, CBS19 feature, and Daily Progress article.

A 2022 flash grant recipient, “Chaos to Chaos: Documenting Afghan Women,” was recently highlighted on CBS19 News for their work to build community and share the stories of Afghan women in the local community.

The Roadmap Scholars Initiative hosted their first summer program, helping first-gen, low-income undergraduates prepare for and apply to elite law schools. Learn more about the scholars in this UVA Law article.

The UVA Solar Car team raced a custom solar-powered electric vehicle at the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Topeka, Kansas this summer. Learn about their preparations and building their car since receiving a Trust grant in 2017 in this Cav Daily article.

Since their 2018 grant, read about the growth and impact of Hoos Connected in this UVA Today feature. The grant funds a one-credit class lasting a single semester that teaches healthy relationship-building skills in small groups of first-year, second-year and transfer students.

“Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala” is the first major exhibition of Aboriginal Australian bark paintings to tour the U.S. It opens in September 2022 at the Hood Museum. Kluge-Ruhe received a Trust grant in 2019 to help produce the accompanying catalog, a 352-page piece in both Yolngu Matha and English (which is the first ever international touring exhibition catalog in an Australian language). Read more about the significance of this exhibition.

The “Transformative Autism Biomarker Research Initiative” in UVA’s Developmental Neuroanalytics Lab was spotlighted in National Geographic’s June 2022 issue. A 2020 grant recipient, the lab is developing new universal screening protocols for social processing disorders.

Ideas Against the Shot Clock

The Jefferson Trust was formed because there was a need for unrestricted funds to support new projects and programs. That need has existed since the University’s founding, and it still exists today. The wide menu of fundraising priorities and the time upper administration devotes to fundraising would indicate the truth of that statement.

With all this time spent on fulfilling ‘the need,’ how does a fundraiser know if the idea they’re pitching resonates with donors? A single ‘yes’ can do it, but it would take several instances of ‘no’ to realize a change needs to be made. Time-constrained campaigns put a shot clock on moving the idea forward, and a year or two of hearing ‘no’ is too long.

Risa Goluboff

In January 2022, Risa Goluboff, Dean of the UVA School of Law, pitched her vision to the Trustees and quickly received her ‘yes.’ The Roadmap Scholars Initiative is a two-year program designed to expose college juniors and seniors to the law, law school and the legal profession, and to help them become competitive applicants to the nation’s top law schools.

The Trustees loved the idea and granted $200,000 in seed funding to help start the program. Not only did this grant help jump-start the program, but the full board, which includes seven Law School alumni, are also strong supporters and advocates for the initiative’s growth.

This same jump-start effect can be even more helpful for a new dean, director or vice president. There’s a lot of pressure on new administrators to simultaneously thank the donors who have given previously, while pivoting to new priorities, and doing so within the campaign timeline.

Nicole Thorne Jenkins

Nicole Thorne Jenkins, the John A. Griffin Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, saw the Trust’s value early on and proposed the Side Hustle program. The program — designed to be taken anywhere, anytime — offers one-half-credit classes that deliver modern business content and skills to students who may be interested in starting a new business, growing a network, honing a brand, or learning how ‘Name, Image, and Likeness’ works for college athletes.

This grant will provide seed funding and proof of concept programming and help the school better showcase the dean’s vision.

These examples have both been on the ‘yes’ side, what happens when the Trust says ‘no’?  It can still be a positive.  A ‘no’ from the Trust gives the grant seeker a chance to revise the pitch, revise the project, or go back to the drawing board.

The Trust grant-making process is a positive opportunity to move an idea forward faster. It yields great ideas and great outcomes that advance UVA.

Grants in the News

Tim Victorio roughs up the first coat of epoxy so a second coat will adhere better. (Photo: Dan Addison)

Our grantees are busy! From constructing tables of recycled lumber to a successfully launching the Business Bootcamp for Artists, read about grant projects featured in local media outlets:

  • UVA Sawmilling received a flash grant in April 2021 to create tables from a 125-year-old tulip poplar tree. Read about the construction process and their partners in creating in this UVA Today article.
  • UVA Edge, an initiative of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, received an annual grant in 2021. UVA Today featured the impactful stories of five students in the first cohort class; read about them here.
  • StARTup Studio, a 2020 annual recipient, was featured in UVA Arts Magazine for their Business Bootcamp for Visual Artists hosted in October 2021.
  • Learn more about the Roadmap Scholars Initiative, one of our new 2022 annual grants from the Law School, from their features on NBC29 and Reuters.
  • The Holsinger Portrait Project is uncovering photos, researching, and telling the stories of Black Charlottesville residents. Read about this 2022 grant project in this Cavalier Daily article.
  • See recent updates from one of our 2020 grants in this UVA Today article; the Trust supported student researchers working on the larger project of air-filtering technologies.

To stay up to date on the work of our grantees, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Jefferson Trust’s 2022 Awards Set New Dollar Amount Record

The Jefferson Trust Board of Trustees has hit new records in its grant-making: awarding nearly $1.35 million to 14 new projects and programs. This is the largest amount ever awarded, and this set of grants also includes the largest number of $100,000+ grants ever awarded.

“This grant cohort is absolutely phenomenal. I can’t wait to see how they transform UVA,” says Amy Bonner, Director of Grants for the Trust. “They are also the result of the most difficult decision-making process the Jefferson Trust has faced — the volume of innovative proposals received clearly demonstrates that the University community is rebounding from the pandemic.”

Together these grants will provide new opportunities for student research and unique classroom experiences, as well as providing pipeline opportunities for future Wahoos. Roadmap Scholars aims to increase the number of underrepresented students attending elite law schools; Star Hill Pathways focuses on improving student outcomes and closing opportunity gaps with local middle and high school students; and Environmental Thought and Practice in Real Life brings environmental leaders to Grounds to engage with undergraduate students and provide immersive learning opportunities with environmental practitioners. Read on for a full list of funded programs.

The 2021-22 Grants:

Roadmap Scholars Initiative: $200,000

This Law School initiative is designed to increase the number of underrepresented students attending elite law schools. From initial exploration of the legal profession to ultimate matriculation, the program will provide aspiring lawyers with the support, opportunities and connections necessary to succeed on their journeys to law school.

Side Hustles Micro Courses: Masterclasses in Contemporary Business Topics: $150,000

Side Hustles and Micro Businesses (SHMB) is a new series of micro courses to prepare UVA students with entrepreneur ambitions to develop profitable businesses.

Starr Hill Pathways: $150,000

Starr Hill Pathways will improve student outcomes and close opportunity gaps, ensuring that local youth (1) are prepared for post-secondary education, (2) have access to enrichment opportunities and support networks, and (3) thrive socially and emotionally. Focused on historically marginalized communities and youth in grades 6 to 12, the goal is to build a support system for students that leads them to admission to UVA or the college of their choice.

Optimizing pediatric donor heart utilization using big data analytics: $133,078

A team of pediatric cardiologists, data scientists, students and engineers are using big data analytics to optimize pediatric heart transplants — the right donor heart with the right patient at the right time. Analyzing data sets from the United Network of Organ Sharing (the most comprehensive representation of pediatric heart transplantation system in the world) will help to improve clinical practice and create predictive modeling to assess specific donors for specific candidates.

Walking the walk: Environmental Thought and Practice in Real Life: $120,000

Environmental Thought and Practice in Real Life (ETP IRL) will bring environmental leaders — thinkers, creators, entrepreneurs, innovators and activists — to Grounds to engage with undergraduates in a non-traditional classroom setting, providing immersive learning experiences. Practitioners-in-real-life (PIRLs) will help lead classes centered on environmental practice, focusing on sets of projects that reach into the broader University community and beyond.

Deaf Orpheus: $100,000

A staged production, “Deaf Orpheus,” will unite the worlds of the Deaf and hearing in an unprecedented full-scale expression of Deaf Opera at UVA in March 2023. Opera singers, Deaf actors, directors and instrumentalists of international prominence will partner with UVA’s USingers and Music Performance Faculty for this production. The production will also be made into a film.

Decarbonization Innovation Summit and Lab: $100,000

Through a summit event and subsequent student-led projects, Decarbonization Innovation aims to encourage interdisciplinary coordination and dialogue to advance solutions to the world’s decarbonization challenge.

Phytoremediation to reclaim farm and tribal lands from PFAS contamination: $93,000

This project allows a team of undergraduate students to demonstrate the full utility of industrial hemp as a tool for phytoremediation of PFAS-polluted agricultural soils and develop methods for implementation and training that can be shared with other communities affected by PFAS pollution.

The Cavalair Project: Smarter buildings for a healthier UVA community: $82,000

Students will conduct research to allow smarter approaches to HVAC system usage (occupancy levels and air quality metrics) that deliver a better, healthier environment for occupants at lower cost in several UVA buildings.

Centering African American Life in Central VA: Community Engagement & The Holsinger Portrait Project: $73,000

In a joint effort with local community members, a team from the University Library and Department of History will create an exhibition, community engagement program and digital humanities research program around a collection of photographs of African American community members taken over 100 years ago.

Integration of Virtual Reality (VR) in Training Medical Students: $54,973

A team of physicians, educators and technologists seek to implement a new model of medical case observance training using virtual reality, cutting-edge 360-video editing techniques, and specially programmed VR headsets. This innovative approach will help to increase trainee comprehension and patient safety.

Search for Hidden Chambers in the Temple of Kukulcán at Chichén Itzá: $35,834

Undergraduate students will work to research, design and fabricate detectors to help search for hidden chambers in the Temple of Kukulcán at Chichén Itzá. Through their work, students will gain a better understanding of particle and nuclear physics and be introduced to the new field of muon tomography.

Saving Athenian Democracy: $28,400

This new, interactive undergraduate course is a hands-on learning experience to expose UVA students to the ancient roots of our modern democracy. The course will challenge students to study and roleplay the lives of the ancient Athenians who worked to restore their democracy between 403 and 398 BC.

Charlottesville Zoning Design Workshop (CZDW): $28,184

This initiative aims to engage students across the School of Architecture in the design and policy questions raised by Charlottesville’s Comprehensive Plan. By exploring zoning through an architectural lens, CZDW will work with students to develop design-research with potential to impact local policy debates, while organizing public symposia on related issues of zoning policy and housing design.